Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Plans for trials of a blight resistant GM potato


If the potato trial is successful spraying with fungicide could be reduced by 80%

Scientists in Norfolk hope to start field trials in May of a genetically modified potato resistant to blight if they can get government approval.

The disease, which can wipe out whole harvests, costs the worldwide potato industry £3.5bn a year.

Scientists at the John Innes Centre have identified two genes from a wild variety which can resist the disease.

Following vandalism of GM crops at the site, £20,000 has been spent on a security fence and cameras.

If government department Defra approves the proposal, a three-year field trial will start in May - with the first results expected to be announced by the end of the year.

'Cutting chemicals'

Professor Jonathan Jones from the Sainsbury Laboratory said: "UK potato growers spray crops 10-15 times a year and in 2007 Europe ran out of chemicals to control blight, it was such a wet year.

"If our research goes ahead and is successful, this will cut chemicals and carbon dioxide generated by the use of tractors."

The two genes were transferred from a wild variety found in South America, whose potatoes grow only to the size of peas.

If Defra grants a licence, the genetically modified Desiree variety, at present growing under glass in a secure greenhouse, will be planted in a field plot.

The plants will then be monitored to see its resistance to blight which is always present.

India has also started similar trials.

Professor Jones anticipated commercial production of the GM potato could start within five years.

Print Sponsor

Potato famine blight DNA decoded
10 Sep 09 |  Tayside and Central
Killer genes cause potato famine
09 Sep 09 |  Science & Environment
Go-ahead given for GM trial site
14 May 07 |  Humber

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

EDP 24 GM potato field trial planned at Norwich Research Park - 40 hrs ago

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific